Monday, June 18, 2012

UK bike mag editors play musical chairs

I got a cryptic email this morning that suggests editorial changes are afoot at Bauer Media, publisher of the weekly motorcycle tabloid MCN, as well as the monthlies Bike and Classic Bike.

Hugo Wilson, who has been the editor of Classic Bike as long as I've been a columnist there, really transformed the magazine. I used to think that Bike was the best English-language bike mag -- and I still think it's the most influential one -- but in recent years, Classic Bike's overtaken it. In spite of Classic Bike's narrower focus, it consistently puts out the most readable and best-looking book.

In spite of a weak economy and the usual perturbations in the publishing world, Wilson proved that in motorcycle magazines, as in magic baseball stadiums, "If you build it they (readers) will come." Classic Bike's had steadily increasing page counts and readership.

Now, Hugo Wilson's been called to Bike. Ben Miller will take over the reins at Classic Bike.

In Wilson, Bike has a skillful and erudite editor. What remains to be seen is, will Bike take advantage of this change to institute a really modern publishing strategy -- yes, one that acknowledges the Internet as more than a way to occasionally pick up a print subscriber, or simply tease print content. It may still be hard (read: impossible) to meaningfully monetize the web side of a print/web hybrid, but if Bauer waits until it can see a path to profit on the web before it expands its web presence, it will be too late.

Everything I wrote about the web strategy for Cycle World applies to Bike. Now, it's time to adapt or die.


  1. Hugo Wilson has done a great job at CB. But I just can't get excited by their content (1960s and 1970's bikes). If they were to move the focus to the early bikes like The Classic Motorcycle does, then I'd subscribe again. For my $, TCM is the best motorcycle magazine being published. But my bias towards bikes of the 19teens is very pronounced... ;)

  2. Classic Bike have the right idea, move the "Classic Goalposts" as the years roll by. To go back and concentrate on earlier bikes would be suicide. If you are interested in these early bikes (and I for one am), then choose another magazine like Classic Motorcycle.

  3. Also interesting is that the Editor of MCN quit last week, after they very recently changed the format to make it more feature-based like the mags. He'll have presumably given notice some time ago, so I'd be interested to know how far ahead these changes-of-editor are planned.
    Another thing is that some of Bauer's bike mags are becoming indistinguishable. Is it reasonable to think Bauer will merge a bunch of them together at some point, and is it in fact deckchairs on the Titanic..?